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Butefest - Weekend Highlights Part 1

We Banjo 3


It's the opening day of Butefest and an unseasonably wet July day has now added some battering winds for the organisers to contend with.  Festival goers and performers seem undeterred as they sing and dance in their muddy wellies but safety comes first and Skerryvore, the much anticipated Friday headline act, are reluctantly cancelled as marquees rattle in the strong gusts.

Not the best of starts for Scotland's newest music festival but the entertainment throughout the day has already managed to build a buzzing atmosphere and when the last performance fails to go ahead, revellers and campers merrily make the short walk into town to keep the party going at the local pubs instead, there's always a silver lining!

The Scottish music festival scene is flourishing and the Isle of Bute is the latest Scottish island to get in on the act with the inaugural Butefest taking place over 3 days from 17th to 19th July with support from lead sponsors CalMac, I was keen to find out what Scotland's newest family and dog friendly musical event had to offer.

I joined a mixture of campers, locals and visitors of all ages in an increasingly muddy field in the town of Rothesay for a weekend that promised an impressive line up of performers, tasty local produce and family fun, and I can honestly say it delivered beyond my expectations.

Craig Horne

Friday Highlights

The heavens had well and truly opened by the time I arrived on Friday afternoon but thankfully both music stages were under cover and a choice of marquees dotted around the arena provided welcome shelter from the elements.  Bursts of bright colour in the form of recycled objects used to decorate the grounds added a rainbow feel to an otherwise grey day and from those huddled on haystacks in the beer tent to those enjoying some warm comfort food, there was no sign of festival spirits dampened by the weather.

Craig Horne was playing a great acoustic set on the CalMac Culture stage and the atmosphere was relaxed as everyone settled into their new weekend home.  With acts alternating between two stages there was no need to choose between performances, if only every festival was this dilemma free!

The CalMac Culture Stage provided a more intimate atmosphere and a great platform for new and up and coming talent and as you would expect the main stage line-up included some of the big names in the festival circuit including headliners Peatbog Faeries and Treacherous Orchestra.

By 7pm the mood was moving towards a party atmosphere and when We Banjo 3 took to the main stage the enthusiastic crowd was suitably warmed up with some Irish humour and fast paced jigging to some very catchy tunes, by the time they had finished it was clear that come rain or shine Butefest had all the right ingredients to become a success.

As the evening carried on with some funky soul and disco vibes, the tempo of the wind in the arena was managing to outpace the music.  It was no surprise that the night was brought to a premature end and while some returned to secure their tents, others made their way to the pubs in town with everyone crossing their fingers and praying to the weather Gods for an improvement over the weekend...

Families at the festival


Bute is Scotland's most accessible island, situated an hour from Glasgow and a 35 minute CalMac ferry ride from Wemyss Bay or a 5 minute ferry ride from the Cowal Peninsula to the north of the island.  With the festival site only a 10 minute walk from the main ferry terminal and Rothesay town centre with a choice of shops, restaurants, pubs you literally have everything you need on the doorstep.  For those not wanting to camp there is also a wide selection of accommodation including hotels, guest houses, bed and breakfasts, glamping pods and a seafront hostel.


Top Tip

Explore the fascinating history of the island at the nearby Rothesay Castle and Bute Museum or find out about it's heyday as a Victorian sea-side resort at The Discovery Centre, all within Rothesay town centre.

The Author


Susanne Arbuckle is a Scottish travel blogger at Adventures Around Scotland. She is a former city girl now island dweller who loves nothing more than inspiring others to discover the best travel experiences Scotland has to offer and create lifetime memories along the way.

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